R iding high off of two triumphant Coachella Performances in support of his debut album, Adventure, Madeon (a.k.a. Hugo LeClerq) took to the stage at Webster Hall to deliver a dazzling performance of his new live show. The excitement for the 21-year-old LeClerq was palpable upon entering the young 16+ crowd for the early show. San Francisco trio, now duo, The M Machine warmed things up with a varied set ranging from futuristic house to furious electro. It was such a good set that LeClerq couldn’t help himself from being spotted by the crowd in the VIP balcony showing his support. This sent the audience into an anticipatory tizzy, as The M Machine took this opportunity to give a heartfelt thank you to Madeon for bringing them on tour.
As a roadie unsheathed the glowing yellow and green lights of the Launchpads, the air was electric. Massive LED screens in the shape of the Adventure symbol, came to life pulsating in sync with the swelling “Isometric.” The tension erupted as an energetic LeClerq took the stage to kick off a roaring rendition of “You’re On.” Bouncing around his command-center-like setup, LeCerq set a blistering pace for what would be a high octane set. No song went untouched by Madeon remixing his originals on the fly on his signature launchpads, conveniently tilted out towards the audience. The crowd ate all of it up singing along to classics like “The City” and his remix of Martin Solveig’s “The Night Out” as well as getting down with the funky “Cut the Kid” and rollicking “Finale.” Madeon’s newer album cuts were embraced just as whole-heartedly and fit in right alongside older fare. The soaring vocals of Dan Smith of Bastille in “La Lune” had the whole crowd floating on cloud 9 and then shirking away all their cares to the rosy falsetto of Passion Pit on the guitar-driven “Pay No Mind.”
But the highlight of the night came with the song that started it all, the 40-track mashup that took Youtube by storm “Pop Culture.” Surreptitiously flexing his fingers before launching into the intricate choreography of the piece LeClerq demonstrates a virtuosic command over the popular midi-controller his longer digits nimbly flitting around the illuminated buttons with laser-sharp precision. LeClerq truly looked like a rockstar onstage, dramatically sweeping his arms like Pete Townsend on a guitar and then becoming as fluid as an orchestra conductor in one fell swoop (albeit one who’s jumping around the stage like a giddy fan). It was at this moment in the night that I truly understood why the crowd was so worked up and in love with Madeon. Madeon represents an ideal. He is an inspiration for young people to follow their passions and one day, with a bit of luck, they too may get to share that with an appreciative audience. It is an incredibly exciting thing to that dream realized by someone else in front of you. It generates a vicarious thrill that invigorates you with a boundless optimism. Madeon is a testament to the potential today’s youth possess and an indication of a new of rising artists poised to change the game.
The one still moment of the night came when LeClerq turned down the lights for the incredibly personal “Home.” A hush fell over the audience as LeClerq stepped up to the mic for the first, and only, time to sing a stripped down version of the track over some thoughtful piano chords that reverberated throughout the hall. One could sense LeClerq’s hesitancy to sing but the crowd chimed in to help carry him through. It was an incredibly human moment, where the flurry of racing electro came to a halt and we got to see another side of the man behind the launchpads. The energy of the room had morphed from energetic glee to a rapturous euphoria as Madeon launched into the full version of the track, bringing the night to an anthemic crescendo. Mixing in bits and pieces of other tracks played throughout the night into one spectacular mashup, Madeon brought things full circle for one last time. Adventure felt like an apropos title as the night ended. LeClerq brought us along on a journey through the aural landscapes he created, full of twists and turns. It was thrilling and satisfying overall making it a memorable experience for the lucky few who got to attend.
Words: Matthew Moen
Photos: Ally Zhao